This Truly Matters Campaign

Brački pupoljici_CTA komunikacije-min

 About the client 

The challenges that children with disabilities face are great in themselves, especially when they live on an island and have to travel ashore by ferry to much-needed therapies accompanied by at least one parent by car. Due to the frequency of travel, the financial burden for one family is 400 EUR per month and this becomes even more problematic when you take into account the fact that most often one parent is not employed because of child care. According to the recent Law on Transport in Liner and Occasional Coastal Transport, children with disabilities from the Croatian islands and their escorts had to pay a ticket like all other islanders.

The Association Brački pupoljci/Buds of Brač fought for ten years for the right to get to therapy free of charge and in that period it received representatives of several ministries who promised to help, but did not fulfil such promises. Initiative to amend Art. 47 of the Law, which would ensure a free ferry was signed in 2018 and was supported by representatives of local governments from Brač, Hvar, Šolta and Vis, as well as numerous associations. After the Initiative was put on the Agenda of the Parliament, the same was proposed to the Parliamentary Committee on Maritime Affairs, Transport and Infrastructure, which on March 13, 2019 rejected the proposal (MPs from the ruling coalition were against it). Due to this repeated rejection of the demand, on April 1, 2019, the campaign This Truly Matters was launched. 

Challenge 

The main objective was the urgent amendment to the current Act to provide a free ferry for island children with disabilities and unhindered access to therapies on land. 

Additional objectives were to increase the visibility of the Association and its demands in the media. Given that no opposition proposal can pass in Parliament, the campaign should force the ruling party to propose these amendments to the Law as their own and vote them in Parliament, involve the Association in drafting amendments to the Law and increase the organic reach of Facebook page posts to 10,000, as well as the number of comments, likes and shares.

Solution 

The basic tools in public relations, as well as the good will of the citizens and all supporters of the Initiative, were crucial for the results of the campaign, which was conducted with a 0 kuna budget.

Through media briefings and reports, journalists were introduced to the demands of the Brački pupoljci and the topic was raised in the media. After the opening of the story on Telegram and N1 television, all other leading media began to broadcast it. After each new event regarding the demand, key messages were sent, allowing the Association to imposed itself as the first source of information on the issue. 

The two meetings on Brač were prompted by sending official letters to the President and Prime Minister of the Republic of Croatia and at the meetings the ruling party made new promises, which served as an additional tool for media pressure. Quick reactions to events, statements and decisions of the ruling party, such as the new refusal to amend Art. 47. in the Committee on Health and Social Policy, served to provoke the emotional reaction of the public and communication errors of the ruling party. There were reactions to the statements of Minister Butković and all allegations from other sources that were considered untrue. Communication with members of parliament ensured that the proposal to amend Art. 47 arrived on the agenda of the Committee on Health and Social Policy (June 27, 2019) before the summer break, as well as for discussion in the Parliament (July 10, 2019). At these debates, the request of Brački pupoljci was again rejected, provoking negative reactions towards the ruling party and creating new communication content. 

By protesting on July 6, 2019 in the port of Supetar, the protesters blocked the disembarkation of the ferry for 120 seconds in order to symbolically show how much do the island children with disabilities depend on this means of transport. The length of the blockade symbolized the 120 months (10 years) the Association had been fighting for this right. The protests and statements of the members of the Association were broadcasted by all national televisions, as well as other leading media.

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Numerous citizens, by publishing and highlighting the cover photo #nestozbiljavazno, demanded an amendment to the Law and the action went through many other initiatives: in Index’s video column “Comment of the Week”, journalist Dora Kršul explained what it was about; as part of the RokOtok project Ribafish dedicated the swimming route between Hvar and Brač to the campaign; cyclist Frane Drpić donated the “everesting” adventure to the Association; Boris Jokić wrote about the demand in a column on Tportal; legendary football player Fernando Torres supported one of the actions of the Brački pupoljci

In order to achieve an even greater organic reach of the campaign people from public life were involved. On their Facebook and Instagram profile, they shared their own photos and videos with a demand to grant free ferry rides. On the Association’s Facebook page, the most emotional content was placed, which encouraged users to be more engaged and, thus, increase the organic reach. The fact it was free made the campaign even more credible. All announcements, reactions, photos and videos of support, TV and other service reports shared by users from private profiles as well as from well-known and various influential and highly followed fan sites (e.g. Dnevna doza splitskog nereda, Bernard Jurišić, Pokret otoka, etc.) were getting posted

All goals have been achieved and some were exceeded. Before the summer parliamentary break, the Government issued a Decision according to which free ferry transport was immediately provided without waiting for comprehensive amendments to the Act (July 11, 2019). The Association was involved in drafting comprehensive amendments to Act. The law was passed unanimously in Parliament on November 29, 2019, including free ferry transport. The proposal came from the Government, therefore the HDZ MPs could not reject it. The campaign also launched a debate on the rights of the most vulnerable groups in society and introduced free ferry transport into the new Act for other neglected categories of passengers with disabilities. There were 408 publications on portals, 31 in newspapers, 28 TV reports and articles and 76 radio announcements. The organic reach of Facebook posts at times reached 130,000 users per post with 5,000 reactions, comments or shares. 0 HRK were spent to reach all objectives.

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